By The Canadian Press on January 1, 2024.
TORONTO – Hype will be replaced by history and hockey this afternoon at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
New York and Toronto will have the honours of playing the first game in the spanking-new Professional Women’s Hockey League at the iconic Carlton Street arena now renovated and operating as Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Toronto coach Troy Ryan, like his excited roster, can’t wait for the puck to drop in the six-team league that became a reality about six months ago.
Montreal will play in Ottawa on Tuesday, while Minnesota will visit Boston on Wednesday. The PWHL has 157 players representing 12 countries.
Toronto forward Natalie Spooner, one of the more recognizable faces and names in the new pro circuit, said everyone is “super excited” to get going. She told reporters that “the first few shifts (on Monday) may just be a little wild.”
The game is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. EST.
Canadian Jessie Eldridge, who plays for New York and is one of that team’s offensive threats, is among those who believe it will feel “a little weird at first” to be teammates with players who have long been rivals on the world or Olympic stage.
Toronto’s roster is filled with a number of national team members, including Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner and Jocelyn Larocque. That star power has helped sell tickets in Toronto as the team’s 12-game home schedule sold out almost immediately.
As Boston forward Hilary Knight pointed out last week: “This (league) has needed to happen for decades.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 1, 2024.